Thursday, December 3, 2009

You should be listening to records, man

A member of the Jazz Royal Family, Branford Marsalis, spent a couple days on campus leading rehearsals, conducting master classes and generally whipping the school's Jazz Studies students into shape. I accompanied some jazz fans to a master class and witnessed Mr. Marsalis mercilessly pushing his pupils to see beyond the traditional tenants of jazz and music instruction and become thoughtful, intuitive artists.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his session with 8 young saxophonists:
  • If you use a double embouchure, you will bite through your lips.
  • Songs are not vehicles for soloing. Pay attention to melodies.
  • Understand what a song is saying and then craft your solo using the same sentiment.
  • In general, learn more solos. Transcribe music from the 30s and 40s.
  • Flawless technique is not artistry.

One of the students played a snippet of 'Round Midnight that was particularly beautiful. His played with dynamics in a really creative way, which Mr. Marsalis praised. "Thats a very hip instinct," he remarked.

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